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Definition  

Varicocele is painless swelling of blood vessels in the scrotum. The scrotum is the pouch that contains the testes in males.

Varicocele  
testicle varices

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Causes  

Most blood normally flows out of the scrotum through a a main vein. A faulty valve in this vein causes blood to back up into the scrotum and lead to varicocele.

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Risk Factors  

Varicoceles typically develop in males 15-25 years old.

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Symptoms  

You will be able to see or feel a varicocele. It is an enlarged or twisted vein in the scrotum. It may become larger when standing or straining. You may also see shrinkage of the testicles.

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Diagnosis  

The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor can make the diagnosis based on the physical exam.

An ultrasound may be done if complications are expected.

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Treatment  

Treatment is not required in all cases.

Treatment may be done to block off the faulty vein and allow blood to flow out through other veins.

  • Open surgery—The vein is surgically cut and tied off.
  • Catheter ablation—Heat is applied through a catheter to destroy the vein.
  • Catheter embolization—A substance is placed in the vein to block it.

Follow the doctor's instructions if your child is diagnosed with this condition.

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Prevention  

There is no way to prevent varicoceles.